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October 2016

Designing a better approach will ensure progress in tackling obesity - National Conference, 18th October 2016

Nearly 300 people were at the conference at Leeds Town Hall to discuss emerging findings from the programme. The audience included colleagues from local authorities all over the country, as well as from community and voluntary groups, national and regional organisations, research bodies and the NHS, interested in finding new and better ways of tackling obesity.

The conference marked the end of the first year of the three-year programme, which aims to apply new learning about creating whole systems approaches to one of the most challenging and complex problems facing society.

The audience heard speakers from Public Health England, the Association of Directors of Public Health and Leeds Beckett, as well as Ian Fytche, CEO of North Kesteven District Council, one of the local authorities piloting the new approach.

Speakers stressed the urgency and importance of tackling obesity with one third of children aged 2 to 15 being overweight or obese, and younger generations becoming obese at earlier ages and staying obese for longer. They also outlined the progress being made in designing a better approach, which brings together all of the organisations and groups that can change the environment in which we all live, and make it easier to make healthier choices.

Experts at Leeds Beckett are exploring how local authorities can use their leadership, levers, and relationships with stakeholders and communities to create a more effective, sustainable, system-wide approach to tackling obesity. Delegates also attended discussions led by Public Health England, the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, Children’s Food Trust, the Soil Association, Helping Overcome Obesity Problems (HOOP) and a range of researchers from Leeds Beckett, The University of Leeds, Newcastle University, London Metropolitan University and Cambridge University.

January 2016

An event which explored a major new programme designed to better support local authorities in tackling the country’s growing obesity epidemic has taken place at Leeds Beckett University.

Leeds Beckett has been commissioned by Public Health England, the Local Government Association and the Association of Directors of Public Health to lead a programme in collaboration with colleagues in local government, to identify ways in which local authorities can create a whole systems approach in tackling obesity.

The event targeted those engaged in tackling obesity, promoting healthier lifestyles and creating healthier environments and took place on Thursday 26 November at the Rose Bowl. There was an opportunity to find out about the programme from the team at Leeds Beckett and the Programme Lead from Public Health England. Discussions included how the team will be working with local authorities to understand their perspectives and identifying what actions are needed over the short, medium and long term; as well as what benefits such an approach can bring.


Professor Steven Allender, Co-Director of the World Health Organisation Collaborating Centre for Obesity Prevention and Professor of Population Health at the Deakin Population Health Strategic Research Centre, spoke about his experiences of working with local authorities to create whole systems approaches in Australia and other countries. The Leeds Beckett team also shared learning nationally and internationally.

Other speakers included Leeds Beckett’s Professor Pinki Sahota and Professor Paul Gately as well as Jamie Blackshaw, who leads Public Health England’s Obesity and Healthy Weight team, Rob Copeland, Professor of Physical Activity and Health at Sheffield Hallam University and Carol Weir, Clinical & Operations Director for MoreLife.


The three-year Whole Systems Obesity programme, funded by Public Health England, is aiming to enable local authorities to make a major step change in their ability to tackle obesity through a more coordinated approach. Previous research has suggested that only by taking a whole systems approach – linking a whole range of sectors and influences including planning, housing, transport, children’s and adult’s services, business and health - can local authorities make significant inroads into tackling obesity and improve quality of life, save money and create sustained prosperity for local areas.


Leeds Beckett’s team will work closely alongside a number of local authorities to understand their perspectives and the realities for local government, to capture best practice, and work collaboratively to overcome challenges. As part of these pilot projects, the teams will co-produce new and innovative approaches that reflect what really matters to local authorities in using the latest thinking and making it work in practice for local people. Key elements of the programme include carrying out a review of the research evidence and experience from across the world and gathering case studies of good practice. The Leeds Beckett team and the local authorities involved in the pilot projects will then create a process and develop a roadmap and practical strategies for other local authorities to apply in practice in order to address the current high levels of obesity.

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